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Udaipur Unveiled: A Walking Tour in Rajasthan’s Most Romantic City Reveals Its Many Layers

by Terry Ward

Mar 27, 2024

© Tktktk | Dreamstime.com

March 2024

Anyone who makes their way to Rajasthan in northern India has likely heard of Udaipur’s allure. The city revered for its lakes and marble palaces is considered by many who know not only the Indian subcontinent but the planet as a whole to be the most spectacularly romantic city on Earth.

Mughal architecture reflecting in the glassy lake waters pays tribute to a jaw-dropping feat of engineering. Often called the Venice of the East, Udaipur rises from freshwater Lake Pichola, a manmade lake dating to 1362.

“Most of the time, people arrive in Udaipur quite tired because they’ve done a reliably large Rajasthan trip,” said Jonny Bealby, founder, Wild Frontiers, a tour operator specializing in tailor-made tours to India. “This is a place to relax and soak it up.”

But travelers who relegate their explorations to the standard strolling route around the city’s famed City Palace (and endless sprawl of tourist shops clogging it) miss out on experiencing an inner window onto the daily life of the people who live, work and raise their families here, he said.

That can be solved by letting Wild Frontiers arrange a walking tour in the city with Virasat Experiences, during which you’ll learn about Udaipur’s living traditions and the people, art and religious beliefs behind them.

“Modern Udaipur takes place beyond the great palaces and havelis lining the lake,” said Bealby. “Yet you still have the ghats in town where people do their washing and elements of real life there alongside a massive tourist industry.”

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© Dmitry Rukhlenko | Dreamstime.com

These 2.5-hour walking tours “focus on showing visitors how Indians live, waking up at the beginning of the day, going about their daily lives and what’s really special about it,” said Bealby. Local guides share popular legends and religious beliefs, and you’ll stop for tea with a local family within their 150-year-old Udaipur residence resplendent with fresco paintings.

Other tour highlights include seeing an ancient step well once used by locals for drinking water and visits to artisans who create the tools and adornments of daily life (water pitchers and clay pottery, jewelry and more) rather than tourist trinkets.

Even in a place as well-trodden by travelers as Udaipur, authentic moments await down every narrow lane.

“I’ve never been to Udaipur and felt the place was spoiled,” said Bealby, who has visited for decades. “You can’t change Udaipur. And that’s quite rare.”

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